Tracking Referrals. Creating a List of Referral Sources. Using the Sales Rep List

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1 Tracking Referrals For many service businesses, tracking the source of business is very important because the knowledge provides a way to spend advertising and marketing funds efficiently. For example, our construction/contracting clients have been able to save a great deal of money on advertising because they track and analyze referral information. For many contractors, small lawn signs ("Roofing by Apple Roofing", or "Plumbing by Joe's Plumbers") placed at the curb are the greatest source of new business. The second most effective referral source is existing customers. All other sources are miniscule compared to these referrals. For these clients, newspaper ads have been cut back (and in some cases, eliminated), saving the company money and time. Yellow page ads have been dropped in favor of a simple listing (so potential customers can find the phone number). The estimate and contract that a customer receives includes the statement that a lawn sign will be put on the premises for the duration of the work and one additional week it's mandatory. Later, the company sends someone to remove the sign. It's unusual for a customer to object to having the sign put on the curb. Other industry types have other ways to announce the fact that they're performing work for a customer. Real estate agents send postcards to the neighbors, other service providers have other methods that work well. If you want to track referrals, you have to take two simple steps: 1. Create a list of referral sources. 2. Add referral information to customer records. Creating a List of Referral Sources One way to create a list of referral sources is to use one of the built-in QuickBooks lists, as long as you're not already using that list for other data. The two built-in lists that work best are the Sales Rep List and the Customer Type List. Using the Sales Rep List The Sales Rep list works well for tracking referrals (if you aren't using it to track real reps or commissions), but you have to do a bit of work to set it up. You can't enter a sales rep unless that name already exists in the Vendor, Employee, or Other Name List. For tracking referrals, the Other Name List works best. Create entries for the Other Name list such as Newspaper Ad, Yellow Pages, Customer Referral, and so on. Then open the Sales Rep List and create Reps from the Other Name List. You have to be rather creative about Sales Rep Initials, since you're limited to 5 characters for the field. Tracking Referrals Page 1

2 Another advantage of using the Sales Rep list is that you can add that field to your sales transaction templates. This lets you ask a customer about the referral source as you're entering the transaction, and when you save the transaction QuickBooks can save the new data to the customer record. Using the Customer Type List If you aren't using the Customer Type list to track types of customers (such as wholesale, retail, etc.), you can use it for referral types. Populate the list with referral sources such as Newspaper Ad, Yellow Pages, Customer Referral, and so on. This list provides subtypes, making it easy to track referrals more specifically. For example, you can create a Type named Newspaper Ad and then create subtypes for each newspaper in which you purchase advertising. As you add or remove newspapers, make the subtype of removed papers inactive so it doesn't appear when you're adding data to the customer record. You can't add the Customer Type data to a transaction template, so you have to open the customer record to update the referral source if you ask the customer about it during transaction entry. Creating a Custom Field for Referrals If you're already using the built-in lists (or even if you're not), you can track referrals with the use of a custom field. Because referrals are a sales tracking device, you only need to add the custom field to your Customers list, using the following steps: 1. Open the Customers & Jobs List. 2. Select any name on the list and click Edit Customer, or press Ctrl-E to put the record in Edit mode. 3. Move to the Additional Info tab. 4. Click the Define Fields button to open the Define Fields dialog, where you can name the field and indicate the list in which you want to use the new field. Click OK to save the information. When you do, QuickBooks flashes a message reminding you that if you customize your templates (forms for transactions, such as invoices), you can add these fields. (The advantage of adding custom fields to transaction templates is covered later in this article.) Tracking Referrals Page 2

3 To add data to the custom fields for each name on the list, open the customer record and move to the Additional Info tab where the custom field you created appears. Add data to the custom field for each customer for which this custom field is relevant. Be sure that you enter data in a consistent manner for each customer, or you won t be able to get the information when you customize a report to include this information. For example, if one of your referral sources is the yellow pages, decide on the way that's entered and make sure you (and all other users) enter it exactly the same way for each customer that came to you as a result of your yellow pages listing. If you decide on YP, don't enter Y P (notice the space between the letters). If you decide on YellowPages, don t enter Yellow Pages or YellPages or YP or anything else. Importing Referral Data If you have a lot of customers, and you already know the referral source for most or all of them, it's time consuming and boring to open each customer record, move to the Additional Info tab, and type in the appropriate data. Here's a better idea: Export the customer list, enter the data in the export file, and import the file back into your company file. It's much easier to enter the data in Excel, and when the file is imported, every customer record is updated with the referral data. After you export the customer list, open the IIF file in Excel and move to the first row where customer names appear. Then use the Freeze Pane command on the Excel Window menu to freeze the first two columns, so the customer names are visible when you scroll to the right to find the columns that need the referral data. ó If you used the Customer Type list for referral data, use the column named CTYPE. ó If you used the Sales Rep list for referral data, use the column named REP. ó If you used a custom field for referral data, see the next section, "Entering Custom Field Data in an IIF File". For Customer Type and Sales Rep, the data you enter must match the data that's in the list Tracking Referrals Page 3

4 and that means an exact match. There are two ways to make sure your data entry matches the list data: ó Add referral data to several customers before exporting the Customer List, making sure you cover each referral items at least once. Then you can copy and paste that data into other customer records. ó Print the list by opening the list window and pressing Ctrl-P, and use the printout to guide your data entry. TIP: For customers with jobs (indicated by a colon between the customer name and the job name), after you enter the customer referral data, place your cursor in the lower right corner of the cell and drag down to fill in all the jobs with the same data. Entering Custom Field Data in an IIF File Filling in custom field data in an import file is different from filling in other data, because when you export the customer list, QuickBooks does not use the names of the custom fields in the exported file. Instead, you see the column name CUSTFLD1, CUSTFLD2, CUSTFLD3, and so on. If this is the only custom field you've created, then CUSTFLD1 is the column to use to add data. If you have multiple custom fields in the Customer List, the CUSTFLD numbers match the top to bottom list of your custom fields, where CUSTFLD1 is the top custom field in the list, CUSTFLD2 is the second-from-the-top custom field, and so on. Customize Templates for Referral Data If you customize your sales transaction templates to display the Rep field or your Custom field (depending on the way you're tracking referral data), you'll see which customers lack referral data when you enter sales transactions (because the field is blank). When you add the field, be sure to select only the Screen for displaying the information, you don't want that field to appear on the printed transaction (it looks tacky). TIP: If you're using the Rep field to track referrals, change the text for the Rep field to "Referral" or "Referred by" when you customize the sales templates. The next time you're entering a sales transaction for the customer, if the field is blank ask about the referral source. Then, add it to the field on the transaction template. When you save the transaction, QuickBooks asks if you want to save that data in the customer record answer Yes. This only works for the Rep field or a Custom field, because the Customer Type field is not available for the sales transaction templates. If you're using the Customer Type field, open the customer's record when you're creating a transaction, and after the customer tells you the referral source, add the appropriate data to the Customer Type field. If you're using the Customer Type field, you can also find out which customers lack referral data by running a report that you customize as follows: 1. Choose Reports Lists Customer Contact List. Tracking Referrals Page 4

5 2. Click Modify Report, and in the Columns list deselect every item except Customer and Customer Type. 3. Click OK to return to the report. 4. Select Customer Type from the drop-down list in the Sort By field. QuickBooks sorts the list so that customers that lack data appear first, followed by customers grouped by their referral data in the Customer Type list. 5. Memorize the report (name it Customer Referral Data or something similar). Analyzing Referrals QuickBooks provides several ways to look at sales data sorted by referrals, so you can see what's working best. The reports you select and/or customize vary, depending on the way you're tracking referrals. Analyzing by Sales Rep If you use the Sales Rep field to track referrals, you can use several built in reports to get data, or you can customize reports to obtain data that suits your needs. Reports Sales Sales by Rep Summary displays a report of total dollars for each sales rep listing (including a total for No Sales Rep, where no Sales Rep data was connected to the customer). This report isn't terribly reliable because total dollars don't necessarily mean anything you could have a referral of one type for a sale of $ and ten sales of $ with a different referral type. Usually the number of sales is more important than the total when you're trying to analyze which referral type works best. Reports Sales Sales by Rep Detail lists the individual sales transactions that make up the total dollars for each referral type, which gives you a better picture of the number of sales you made from each referral type. QuickBooks doesn't total the number of sales for each referral type, but you can print the report and count them (if the number of sales isn't large) or export the report to Excel and apply Count functions to the spreadsheet. Analyzing by Customer Type QuickBooks doesn't offer a report that separates and subtotals sales by customer type, but it's easy to build one, as follows: 1. Open the Customer Type list and select any listing, and then press Ctrl-Q to open a Quick Report on that listing. 2. Click Modify Report, and move to the Filters tab (where a filter for this Customer Type is already in place). 3. In the Filter list, select Customer Type. 4. In the Customer Type field, select All Customer Types (to replace the single Customer Type previously selected). 5. Click OK to return to the report, which now displays sales information for each sale in the date range you selected, sorted and subtotaled by Customer Type. Analyzing by Custom Field Tracking Referrals Page 5

6 The easiest way to analyze referrals if you're using a custom field is to build your own report from scratch, as follows (in this example the custom field is named "Referral"): 1. Choose Reports Custom Transaction Detail Report. 2. Click Modify Report and select the Referral and Amount columns, deselecting all other columns (unless you choose to add the customer to the report, in which case also select the Name column). 3. In the Filters tab, select Transaction Type, select Multiple Transaction Types, and then select Invoice and Sales Receipt. 4. Click OK to return to the report and select Referral from the drop-down list in the Sort By field. 5. Memorize the report, giving it an appropriate name. QuickBooks does not permit you to total by Referral, so you must export the report to Excel and build your totals there. Tracking Referrals Page 6

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